6.3       Indoor Lighting Controls Requirements

The use of lighting controls is an important component of the Energy Standards.

6.3.1          Requirements of Controls Devices

Manual-on/automatic-off occupant sensors (also known as vacancy sensors), motion sensors, photo-control astronomical time clock controls (used for outdoor lighting), and dimmers installed to comply with §150.0(k) shall be) must have been certified to the Energy Commission by their manufacturer, pursuant to the provisions of the Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Regulations (Title 20 California Code of Regulations, §1606), as required by §110.9.         Requirements for Dimmers

In assition to meeting the applicable requirements of the Appliance Standards, all forward phase cut dimmers must comply with NEMA SSL 7A. This designation is typically noted on equipment cut sheets or dimmer packaging and ensures compatibility with solid state lighting (including LEDs).

6.3.2          General Controls Requirements

Following are general control requirements that apply in all room types and for all luminaire types:      Residential Low Efficacy Luminaires

All permanently installed luminaires shall have readily accessible controls that permit the luminaires to be manually switched on and off.      Exhaust Fans

There are two options for the lighting associated with exhaust fans:

1.    All lighting shall be switched separately from exhaust fans.

2.    For an exhaust fan with an integral lighting system, it shall be possible for the lighting system to be manually turned on and off while allowing the fan to continue to operate for an extended period of time.      Manufacturer Instructions

All lighting controls and equipment shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.      Multiple Switches

This requirement applies to all 3-way, 4-way, and other lighting circuits controlled by more than one switch. A lighting circuit controlled by more than one switch where a dimmer or vacancy sensor has been installed to comply with §150.0(k) shall meet all of the following conditions:

1.    No controls shall bypass the dimmer or vacancy sensor function.

2.    The dimmer or vacancy sensor shall be certified to the Energy Commission that it complies with the applicable requirements of §110.9.      Lighting Control Systems and Energy Management Control Systems (EMCS)

Lighting controls may be either individual devices or systems consisting of two or more components. Lighting control systems and EMCS must meet the requirements of §110.9. There is no need for lighting control systems to be certified to the Commission. However, when installing a lighting control system, a licensee of record must sign a lighting control Certificate of Installation

6.3.3          Spaces Required to Have Vacancy Sensors

Manual-on/automatic-off occupant sensors, also known as vacancy sensors, automatically turn lights off if an occupant forgets to turn them off when a room is unoccupied. Additionally, these sensors are required to provide the occupant with the ability to manually turn the lights:

1.    Off upon leaving the room.

2.    Off while still occupying a room.

3.    On upon entering the room.

The manual–off feature is critical because it provides the occupants with the flexibility to control the lighting environment to their satisfaction, and results in greater energy savings by allowing the occupants to turn off the lights when they are not needed.

The Energy Standards require vacancy sensors to control at least one luminaire in the following room types:

1.    Bathrooms.

2.    Utility rooms.

3.    Laundry rooms.

4.    Garages.

If there are rooms or areas where there are safety concerns regarding the use of vacancy sensors, then the use of “dual technology” (infra-red plus ultrasonic) may be desirable, or the vacancy sensor may be staged to partially shut off the lighting before switching it off completely.      Choosing Vacancy Sensors

Vacancy sensors commonly on the market are wired in two different ways:

1.    Where sensor operating current uses the load connection (two-wire connection).

2.    Where sensor operating current uses a neutral connection (three-wire connection).

Some vacancy sensors using the load connection for operating current have minimum load requirements.

For example, a vacancy sensor may require that bulbs rated over 25W be installed before the sensor will work. However, if an occupant later installs a screw-in compact fluorescent lamp that is rated less than 25W, the sensor may no longer work.

Therefore, it is critical to select a sensor that has a low enough minimum load requirement to accommodate however small a load the occupant may install into the socket, or one that does not have a minimum load requirement. Sensors that have a minimum load requirement are typically designed to operate without a neutral wire in the switch box, which is a common wiring scheme in older residential units. Vacancy sensors that are designed to take advantage of the neutral wire in the switch box typically do not have a minimum load requirement and are the preferred choice for residential units.

Using vacancy sensors that use the ground wire for the operating current is not recommended. There are potential safety concerns with using the ground to carry current in residential applications.

If you are trying to control a lighting fixture from two different switches you may want to use a ceiling mounted sensor rather than a wall switch occupant sensor, or use 3-way vacancy sensors at both switch locations.

Example 6-10: Bathroom vacancy sensors--manual off


Must the vacancy sensor in a bathroom provide the occupant the option of turning the light off manually?


Yes. The vacancy sensor must provide the occupant with the option to turn the lights off manually.

If an occupant forgets to turn the lights off when a room is left unoccupied, then the vacancy sensor must turn the lights off automatically within 20 Minutes. However, the occupant must also have the ability to turn the lights off upon leaving the room.

This provides occupants with the flexibility to control the lighting environment to their satisfaction, and results in greater energy savings by allowing occupants to turn off the lights when they are not needed.


Example 6-11: Can auto-on occupancy sensors be used?


What are the options for using an automatic-on occupant sensor in a bathroom, garage, laundry room, or utility room?


Automatic-on occupant sensors are not allowed under the residential lighting requirements.


Example 6-12: Usage of Energy Management Control System (EMCS) for controls


What is permitted for the use of Energy Management Control System (EMCS) in the controls of under-cabinet lighting?


It is allowed to use an EMCS to control under-cabinet lighting provided that the under-cabinet lighting is switched separately from other lighting systems as specified in §150.0(k)2L.

6.3.4          Luminaires Required to Have Dimmers or Vacancy Sensors

All luminaires that are installed with JA8-certified light sources are required to be controlled by either a dimmer or vacancy sensor. In addition, all blank electrical boxes more than five feet above the floor must be controlled by a dimmer, vacancy sensor, or fan speed control.

Dimmers or vacancy sensors are not required on any luminaires located in closets less than 70 square feet, or in hallways.

Although not required for all luminaires or space types, the use of dimmers and/or vacancy sensors is recommended for any application where they can provide additional energy savings or additional amenity for the homeowner or occupant.      Choosing Dimmers

It is important to correctly match the dimmer with the type of lighting load that is being dimmed. Failure to do so may result in early equipment failure, including the dimmer, transformer, ballast, or lamp.

This is especially important with LED lighting; a dimmer with the appropriate power range should be chosen to match the total wattage of lighting it controls.

As noted, all forward phase cut dimmers must comply with NEMA SSL 7A for usage with LED light source. This is to ensure compatibility between the forward phase cut dimmers and the LED light sources.

Example 6-13: Using dimmers on three-way lighting circuits


In stairwells and some corridors, 3-way circuits are a common way to allow control of the lighting from either end of the space. How can I use dimmers to give a similar level of control?


In this case, the lighting must be controlled by at least one dimmer. It is functionally preferable, but not required, to have dimmers at every point. One of the switches must be a dimmer but the other may be a regular toggle switch. Alternatively, more advanced controls are available that allow dimming from both ends of the circuit.

Note that the toggles switch(es) must not allow the lighting to come on at a higher level than is set by the dimmer.